5 October 2022 | “Your CO2 limit for the month has been reached, unfortunately we can no longer sell you meat and tropical fruits. How about locally grown potatoes and vegetables?” You could be getting messages of this kind in the near future from the payment app on your personal monitoring device (aka smartphone) when you enter a supermarket towards the end of the month – at least if the corporate lobby World Economic Forum has its way.
In September, the World Economic Forum published a contribution by the Forum’s “Mission Director” for so-called smart cities. In it, Kunai Kumar, India’s Minister of Works and Urban Affairs, advocats CO2 emission limits for consumers.For these, all CO2 released in the life cycle of a product would be attributed to the buyer. “‘My Carbon’: An approach for inclusive and sustainable cities“, is the title of the article.
Kumar unintentionally gives insight into the interests of the IT and financial corporations that knit and control the increasingly interconnected global network of financial and data flows. After reading the article, you get a good idea, why the international corporations, especially those in the USA, have welcomed and supported Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement with such open arms, even though the measures against climate change are mainly disadvantageous for normal companies.
Kumar writes that personal carbon budgets have had little success so far because of political resistance and because a “fair mechanism for tracking emissions” has been lacking. It is not clear what fair means in this context. However, he points to important social, environmental and technological developments in the last five to seven years that could help to finally implement such “my carbon” programmes:
1. Covid-19: “A huge number of unimaginable restrictions for public health were adopted by billions of citizens across the world.” writes the World Economic Forum’s Mission Director. In other words, it has been proven that anything that is sold as socially responsible is accepted.
2. The fourth industrial revolution: “Advances in emerging technologies like AI, blockchain and digitization can enable tracking personal carbon emissions, raise awareness and also provide individual advisories on lower carbon and ethical choices for consumption of product and services.” Listed are so-called “smart home” technologies and “smart” meters for electricity and gas, as well as personalised apps to measure personal emissions and improve purchasing decisions.
Also, true to the infamous forum promise for 2030 “You will own nothing and you will be happy” , business models supposedly built on complete reuse, such as “products as services”, where you no longer own devices but pay according to use. Live data and historical data of all products and users could be used for this nowadays. The Swedish app Svalna is highlighted and praised as an example. According to its own description, it uses users’ financial transaction data from electronic payment transactions to record all products purchased and thus determine the users’ indirect CO2 emissions.
3. More environmental awareness: 64% of the world’s citizens believed that climate change was a global emergency. 80% of people living in industrialised countries are willing to change their way of life to address it. Young adults, who are at the forefront of the main climate protests, are more concerned than their elders. So the chances are good to take the next necessary steps, writes the mission director. They are the following:
- Higher costs for CO2-intensive activities and goods.
- Making personal carbon footprints visible.
- A new definition of the fair personal share of emissions with acceptable limits on individuals’ emissions.
In Norway, the statistics authority has been forcing payment service providers and supermarket chains to give it the data with which it can record what exactly each individual buys, in order to find out what food and drinks citizens eat. They can already know this easily in aggregate by looking at what is bought overall, but they want to know who exactly buys what. In this way, the state wants to be able to better assess how healthy or unhealthy its citizens eat and determine which groups or people it needs to work on in particular if it wants to improve eating habits.
If the Svalna app really works as the company describes, then in Sweden it is already possible to see which products have been purchased from the payment transaction data of the processors. And in Bavaria, Vienna, Rome and Bologna (linked blogposts are in German). eco-tokens are being trialled, where you can earn points for environmentally conscious (and digital-savvy) behaviour and exchange them for prizes – provided you submit to comprehensive monitoring of your everyday behaviour.
One aspect of this agenda, which suits the large corporations is the fact that citizens are being made responsible for the carbon dioxide emissions of products, even though they have no influence on how these are produced and might only want them because a need has been created by advertising campaigns. An even more important aspect is this: for the globally dominating mega-corporations of the IT and finance industries, there is hardly anything better than the transition to an economy with centrally managed allocation. For it is they who would allocate and control in this system, and thus hold all power in their tentacles.
This is the transition to neo-feudalism that I describe in my book “Endspiel des Kapitalismus” (Endgame of Capitalism). We can still prevent it if enough people wake up, stop participating and instead put pressure on politics. After all, if we are resisting we are in harmony of interest with almost all the domestic companies that are taking a beating in this campaign dominated by Silicon Valley and Wall Street.
This post is not a commentary on whether the earth is warming (obviously), whether that is just bad (for many in many ways) or catastrophic for mankind, and most importantly, whether it is within our power to stop it. I find the latter difficult for a layperson to judge, given the scientific complexity of the matter and the confusion campaigns orchestrated by ivestedinterests on both sides of the debate. Therefore, I hold back in this debate.
Instead, my point here is simply to point to the great danger for climate activists to be harnessed to an agenda they are unlikely to like. It can be taken for granted that the big corporations are not interested in saving the world. Otherwise, those who push this agenda would not be constantly motoring and jetting halfway around the world in their mega yachts and private jets to live the good life in the most beautiful places and to debate the best ways to reduce the individual carbon footprints of the common people.